AMD recently announced their RX 480 video card at a price point of $199.
Why we think this card is potentially very important:
-The price is significantly less than previous cards that had similar capabilities.
-Focus on being VR-ready.
-HDCP 2.2 (waiting for confirmation on this).
We were not expecting this level of 4K support at this price point. We look forward to further testing to see if this card is sufficient for all your 4K HTPC and video editing needs.
Here are some highlights that matter to us:
- H.264 encoding 4K at 60Hz and decoding 4K at 120 Hz and 8K at 30Hz
- HEVC encoding 4K at 60Hz and decoding 4K at 120 Hz and 8K at 30Hz
- 10-bit HEVC encode and decode and 12-bit HEVC decode
This means that the above specs will trickle down to more affordable cards to use in a home theatre PC system. 10-bit 4K at 60Hz is the minimum standard we like as a future-proof specs that should last a person until 8K era.
AT $599 and expected to be released on May 27th, 2016, the GTX 1080 is a better value than previous Nvidia offerings.
Besides operating at 9 TFLOPS and having 8GB of G5X ram, it also has the following:
- 7680×4320@60Hz support
- HDMI 2.0b interface with HDCP 2.2
- Displayport 1.4
- A surprisingly low power consumption of 180 W (at maximum)
It’s nice to see HDMI 2.0b standard being used. It’s not clear if this card has HEVC h.265 support but we would be surprised if it didn’t.
We don’t feel like it’s the best time to invest a lot in 4K. Take video cards for example. With HDMI 2.0a, HDCP 2.2, h265, and several other factors in the mix (e.g., is your 4k60fps, 4:2:0 color space sampling or is it capable of 4:4:4?) there is a lot for the consumer to understand and figure out. A lot more of this will be standardized and resolved in 2016. There are still a lot of software bugs and decoding issues too along other kinds of annoyances that won’t stop someone dedicated enough. But it’s not a straightforward experience yet and early adopters may be punished in various ways.
That said, if you want to try and future proof your video card purchase for right now then we suggest Nvidia graphic cards based on the Maxell 2 platform (GTX 980 Ti, GTX 980, GTX 970 and Titan X).
Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 980ti was the video card to beat, and Radeon’s R9 Fury X has beaten it by a slight margin. The R9 390 shares architecture with the R9 Fury X series and should do well as well. You can see AnandTech’s article about these video cards for more information.
Nvidia’s new Titan X is a wonderfully powerful video card that is primarily marketed at gamers who want to be able to run games at 4K with a single video card.
Unfortunately H.265 video decoding is lacking (unlike in the Nvidia GTX 960) and we haven’t heard yet about HDCP 2.2 (Digital Rights Management encoding that will effect video playback) but it does not appear to be in this card.
There is an HDMI 2.0 port on this video card, thankfully. But until the H.265 and HDCP 2.2 are included we recommending holding off unless you can’t wait.
Apart from the Nvidia Geforce GTX 960, 970, and 980, all other video cards from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel have HDMI 1.4 or less.
This is very significant because HDMI 1.4 can only do 30 frames per second at the 3840×2160 resolution while HDMI 2.0 can do 60 frames per second at 4K resolution.
Additionally, these new HDMI 2.0 video cards also have a H.265 (HEVC) video decoder as opposed to the H.264 video decoder of previous generations.
Please note that Nvidia initially made an error in the specifications for the 970. It’s slightly less powerful than initially represented. There is now a class action lawsuit in regards to this error.